The Hope Bay gold mine, owned by TMAC Resources Inc., has seven new presumptive cases of COVID-19, the Government of Nunavut said on Sept. 28. (File image)

Updated: Seven cases of COVID-19 at Western Nunavut gold mine confirmed

“These latest cases lead us to believe there is transmission of COVID-19 at the Hope Bay mine”

By Jane George

Updated on Sept. 29, at 8:40 a.m.

TMAC Resources Inc. has confirmed that the seven presumptive cases of COVID-19 at its Hope Bay mine site have been shown to be positive.

Yesterday, the Government of Nunavut  announced that the Hope Bay gold mine in western Nunavut had seven new presumptive cases of COVID-19.

“These latest cases lead us to believe there is transmission of COVID-19 at the Hope Bay mine,” said Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, in a news release issued yesterday.

The government says it had deployed its rapid response team to the mine site.

“The team, including two nurses and a logistician, is trained to trace, track and contain the virus to help reduce the risk of further transmission,” said Patterson.

The owners of the mine, TMAC Resources Inc., contacted the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer on Sept. 26 about an employee who was developing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

The Department of Health then worked with on-site medical staff to swab the symptomatic employee and contacts.

These seven cases will count as Nunavut’s first COVID-19 cases. Previous cases at the territory’s mines didn’t count as such, because they came from southern Canada.

The Hope Bay mine was the site of two confirmed cases declared on Sept. 19.

At the time, Patterson, said there was “no evidence of transmission within the Hope Bay site.”

The Nunavut government says there is “no established link” between those previous cases and the current ones.

It says all presumptive positive cases, and any of their known contacts, have been isolated at the mine site, and contact tracing is ongoing.

All non-essential travel to and from the mine, including scheduled shift changes, is cancelled until further notice.

The presumptive COVID-19 cases did not affect the current public health measures, Nunavut’s Path or the Common Travel Areas with Churchill, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, the government said yesterday.

“Although this is a serious situation, the risk to Nunavummiut is very low,” Nunavut’s health minister, George Hickes, said in the news release.

“There are no Nunavut residents currently working at the Hope Bay Mine, and the site is isolated from all Nunavut communities. As we see cases on the rise in southern Canada, I encourage all Nunavummiut to be careful, follow our public health advice and remain prepared for COVID-19.”

In late July, TMAC boosted its pandemic prevention efforts by instituting pre-flight rapid COVID-19 testing at Edmonton for all inbound southern workers, Alex Buchan, TMAC’s vice-president for corporate social responsibility, told Nunatsiaq News.

Anyone who believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 is advised to call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. eastern time or notify their community health centre right away by phone, and immediately self-isolate at home for 14 days, the government said.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

The best protection from spreading or catching the disease is physical distancing, hand washing for at least 20 seconds, coughing and sneezing into an elbow, and staying home as much as possible, the government said.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Artie on

    Nunavummiut probably be interested in knowing where the 7 miners are from. As for sale of mine to a chinese company – should find another buyer. Of course TMAC desperately! wants to sell because exec’s & sr mgmt have shares in co. that they rcvd for peanuts and if sale is approved share price will go up huge and they will sell their shares asap. This is all about $$ for them with no regard about selling to a chinese state owned co. with questionable intentions.

    • Posted by Clarity on

      This comment is so misleading. The sale price is already locked in at $1.75 per share. Its not going up huge since the shares are trading currently at $1.27. The difference between the sale price and the current price represents the risk that the deal falls through as the sale itself has not been approved by the Federal Government. As the deal has lingered on without Federal Gov’t blessing the stock price as deviated further from the $1.75 mark due to increased risk the Federal Government denies it.

      If you look at TMAC’s charts the stock had consistently traded down and people are more than likely holding shares far above $1.75 per share. This includes upper management and executives. This is further supported by the fact that TMAC’s IPO was over the sale price. At this point people are hoping to minimize their losses since if a company didn’t buy TMAC the mine would likely go into receivership.

      • Posted by Artie on

        My point exactly. It is all about the $$. No concern whatsoever that they wd be selling to a chinese govt sponsored co. that wants an arctic presence.

        • Posted by Clarity on

          Yes, they need money to fund operations because at their previous pace the company would have been bankrupted without a buyer. It was stated they didn’t have the capital to correct their processing facility nor did they have any capital to expand.

          TMAC had been for sale for multiple months looking for buyers. If there was Canadian interest they could have stepped up to negotiations at any point. There was none.

          Even if mgmt. had to option to buy shares at an absolute steep discount the shares of that mine are trading significantly lower than they ever had and with a settlement of $1.75 I am sure they are still losing money compared to if they had taken a cash bonus or not vested at all. TMAC’s shares have been a dumpster fire since the mine announced production issues.

          If there’s no sale there wont be a TMAC mine. It is not in Nunavut’s interest for that to happen. Nunavut’s primary GDP contributor to no surprise is mining. You already have significant unemployment plaguing this territory , a mine closure will only result in more and more government assistance resulting in budget transfers further handicapping other necessary social programs.

          But CHINA!

      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        Senior management often get shares in lieu of a cash bonus, or they are given the opportunity to buy shares at a discounted price.

        The federal government should not allow the sale to a Chinese company as it is not in Canada’s long term interest.

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